Health

Osage Elders to receive supplemental Medicare coverage from Nation

Osage Congress passed legislation in 2014 to provide supplemental Medicare benefits for qualifying Osages 65 years and older, the benefits will be available beginning July 1.

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear supports the supplemental coverage for Osage elders. He said after the legislation was passed last spring during the 2014 Hun-Kah session getting the supplemental coverage to Osage elders was a matter of working out the details with the insurance provider, HealthSmart, and Medicare.

In an executive memorandum to Osage elders on April 27 the Chief stated, “It is my pleasure to introduce the Osage Nation’s latest tribal elder health benefit-optional Medigap coverage … our elders are our greatest asset and as such we are proud to support you.”

HealthSmart is the contracted health insurance provider for the Osage Nation. Vice President of Sales, Tom Bartlett, said he is consistently impressed with the generosity of the Osage Nation in providing services for the Osage people.

“There is no greater honor or service than providing for your elders and the Osage Nation has proven time and again to be a generous tribe to their people,” said Bartlett who has been working with the Nation to facilitate health benefits for the Osage people for more than six years.

“This service is really an evolution of the health benefit card,” he said and added, “… the supplemental coverage will eliminate the deductible for physicians and hospitalizations.”

About providing additional coverage for tribal members 65 years and older, Bartlett said that by far, health costs for the elderly eclipse those of people who are younger so their need for additional coverage is justified.

Congresswoman Shannon Edwards sponsored the bill to provide the supplemental coverage. She said the additional coverage fulfills the Nation’s constitutional mandate to provide for Osage elders. “The supplement is another step forward to putting our revenues to use for the greater good.”

She said Osage elders need to be informed about receiving the benefit because it is not the same as the health benefit card.

All Osage tribal members regardless of age and health are eligible to receive a $500 health benefit to assist with coverage for various allowable medical costs like prescription glasses, prescription drugs, and medical co-pays. With the new supplemental health coverage for elders there is the option to either receive the health benefit card with a guaranteed amount of $500 and up to $1000 if the funds are available or select the Medicare Plan F coverage with a monetary value of $193 per month or $2,316 annually.

“The law says $500 for each tribal member and $1000 for over sixty five, but that’s only if the there is enough available funding, so it’s not guaranteed,” Edwards said about the Nation’s annual budget for the health benefit card. She added, “The treasurer must confirm there is enough available funding to offer elders the $1000 benefit and that decision is made in late September.”

Important information about receiving the supplemental coverage:

  • May 12, 2015 at 4 p.m. HealthSmart and United American Insurance Company are hosting an informational town hall meeting available online at osagenation-nsn.gov and again at the Wah.Zha.Zhi Cultural Center at 5pm
  • Call: 1-877-722-6973 for more information
  • Email: osage@healthsmart.com for more information
  • Your coverage will be effective July 1, 2015 if your application is mailed by May 23, 2015
  • Elder Osages and Non-Osage Medicare eligible spouse must be ages 65 years and older
  • Should you elect the Medicare Supplemental Plan F coverage, you will be deemed to have opted out of the Osage nation limited health benefit as of the date the Medicare Supplement coverage takes effect

 

INITIAL OPEN ENROLLMENT

Effective date

Application must be mailed by:

July 1, 2015

May 23, 2015

August 1, 2015

July 15, 2015

September 1, 2015

August 15, 2015

 

 

ANNUAL OPEN ENROLLMENT

Effective Date

Enrollment Period

Application must be Mailed by:

January 1, 2016

Nov. 1, 2015-Dec. 7, 2015

Dec. 7, 2015

 

 

SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIODS

Qualifying Event

Enrollment Period

Turning 65 Open Enrollment

Enroll within 90 days before or after your Medicare Part A&B Effective date

Involuntary Loss of Current Coverage

Outside of these other Open Enrollment timeframes, send in your enrollment form 90 days before or after your involuntary loss of coverage. Documentation of your involuntary loss must be provided.